A luxurious party on the table with champagne, oysters, truffles and caviar: these are the suggestions of culinary expert Jacques Hermus

December is the festive month in which we like to unpack, and not just presents. People also have to dig deeper into their pockets for food and drinks. There should be something tasty on the table. Such as the products, ingredients and wines below.

The prices of our daily food groceries in the supermarkets have risen by about ten percent last year, so our festive month is going to be expensive anyway. And then a blow awaits us on the chocolate market, one of the wonderful luxuries we allow ourselves from time to time – or for chocoholics daily – allow, because the harvest is apparently disappointing this year. Then the price increase of real luxury ingredients is relatively limited. Moreover, if you want luxury – and we realize that this is not for everyone – you are not going to skimp on those ingredients.

For the festive month we propose a few products that lead to delicious snacks and meals in our kitchen. With the occasional glass of a wine that may cost a little more than the average price that Dutch people pay in the supermarket (around 4 euros).


Of course we start with champagne. Now there is a huge choice of champagnes, but you will not drink real quality champagne for less than 30 euros. For around four euros you can get a nice Moët & Chandon, De Saint-Gall, Deutz or Pommery, a few cents more will get you a nice Gosset, Perrier-Jouet or Ayala. For the ‘it may cost a bit’ people, we would like to point out Ruinart, Billecart-Salmon or Roederer. And don’t blow it on New Year’s Eve, when greasy donuts and some pre-drinks have already ravaged the taste buds. Then take another bubble.


For true gourmands, truffles are a treat they will gladly spend their money on. The white ‘Alba’ truffle from Italy is the most expensive (currently about 3,500 euros per kilo), the black winter truffle from, for example, the French Périgord is cheaper, on average about 1,000 euros per kilo. Prices vary considerably depending on supply.

But the good news: you only need a few grams to add the overwhelming aroma to your dish. In an omelet for example, or a nice pasta sauce. The white truffle is best processed raw (often shaved over dishes) and the black truffle can be heated in a dish.

Please note: most ‘truffle oil’ does not contain real truffles, but a synthetic substance that mimics the smell of truffles. An earthy wine goes well with dishes with the earthy truffle. We would say a pinot noir – and go crazy, choose Salentein from Argentina (once founded by the Dutch Pon family).

Coquille Saint-Jacques

A favorite on our table is the coquille Saint-Jacques, and not just because of the name. The white meat of the shellfish – you can also eat the orange coral, but many people do not like the mouthfeel – is juicy, tasty and easy to prepare. Simply sear for a minute on each side in a pan with water, butter or oil, the meat may still be a little raw on the inside.

Scallops cost about 60 euros per kilo, but that kilo usually contains about thirty pieces and you only need two to three per person to make a nice starter. Although you can now also buy them frozen in the supermarket, it is still wiser to buy them from the fish stall or fishmonger. They should feel firm and smell not of fish, but of the sea.

The sweetness in the scallop makes it suitable for pairing with a beautiful wood-matured chardonnay (from Burgundy) or a chenin blanc from the Loire. A South African chenin blanc is also possible, for example from Badenhorst or Bellingham.


The oyster should not be missing in the luxury department. The bivalve that we find along almost all the colder coasts of the world. So also ours. Where the originally flat oyster has been almost completely displaced by the rounded oyster, the creuse . Also tasty, by the way, and a bit meatier. You can buy oysters at the fishmonger, including farmed oysters. The latter is more expensive, usually above 2 euros per piece.

To open oysters, it is best to watch an online video. An oyster knife – with a short and strong blade – is indispensable. If you don’t like really fresh oysters, or you dread opening them: we sometimes roast them over an open fire or in the open BBQ (you also use that thing in winter). Place the closed shell on the rack for a minute, turn it over and you’re done: the oyster is cooked in its own water and will squeak open automatically. Add lemon mayonnaise or a vinaigrette and you’re done.

Well, almost then, of course something also has to be donated. Champagne can of course be paired with the raw oyster, but a muscadet Sèvre et Maine from the Loire is also possible, as is a picpoul de Pinet. For the cooked oyster we would recommend a sauvignon blanc from New Zealand (Staete Land Vinyards from Ruud Maasdam) or Chile (Santa Rita, Montes).

Caviar different

Depending on the type of sturgeon the eggs come from, you can easily spend between 1,500 and 4,000 euros for a kilo of caviar. That’s too much for us, even though we love it. An alternative is the ‘caviar’ of salmon, trout or herring. One tenth of the price of the cheapest sturgeon caviar. Ideal for decorating dishes – for example scallops or on small salads – or on a Russian blini.

Make sure you buy the real eggs for herring: they are small and cream-colored, the black herring roe is not roe, but smoked fish waste made into balls with a gelling agent, colored with squid ink. Drink it with ice-cold vodka or a very dry white wine. Too much perfume in the wine competes with the subtle flavor of the eggs.

Brioche with pate

Brioche is soft, airy and slightly sweet white bread. A delicious bread that you can put in your mouth, but also with a curl of butter. You can also toast it. Nowadays you see it more and more often at the bakery, but you can also easily bake the bread yourself – there are plenty of online recipes.

Brioche is one of the components of our guilty pleasure : slices of bread on which we spread a delicious rillette – for example from pork and duck – or a beautiful pâté. And when we think of the latter, we don’t think of the soulless pâté slices from the supermarket, but the homemade pâté from the butcher. More expensive, but often incredibly tastier than the supermarket spreads. Fortunately, you don’t have to go to the perfect pate country, France, for this. What suits this from France: a glass of pinot gris from Alsace or a Banyuls from Roussilon. Gives a nice sweetness.

Iberico ham

We only have to change one letter of the pate and you get to the pata negra , the well-known dried raw ham from mainly the south-west of Spain (and Portugal). Nowadays jamón ibérico mentioned, with the suffix ‘ the bellota ‘ indicates the highest quality. The pigs eat acorns, which give the meat of the hind leg its characteristic, slightly sweet meat taste. Aged for ten months, specially treated, therefore expensive. But cut it into wafer-thin slices, pour in a glass of fino or manzanilla sherry (a marriage partner from the south-west of Spain) and sit back for a moment.